Background According to traditional Chinese medicine, areas of the auricle where there is increased electrical conductivity and heightened tenderness to touch correspond to specific areas of the body. The hypothetical map of different bodily regions appears on the external ear as an inverted fetus, with the head represented towards the lower lobule, the hands and feet represented at the uppermost portion of the auricle, and the body in between.
Objectives The present study was designed to evaluate the electrical conductivity and tenderness to touch corresponding to the specific area of the knee in the external ear, in patients suffering from knee’s osteoarthritis, comparing to a control group.
Methods A comparative prospective study was performed, 50 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee and 50 safe controls. Electrical conductivity in the knee’s area was measured in both groups. Skin conductance was measured using the AcuGraph 3 Digital Meridian Imaging System, a computer software and hardware system consisting of software, an electronic control unit, and a probe set. The system electrically measures current flowing in the specific acupoints of the knee. The quantitative data was analyzed by the statistical package EPI INFO 6.
Results One hundred patients were followed up. Overall, 72% of subjects were female, the number of females outnumbered males in the experimental group. The mean age of the participants in the experimental group and control group was 53,3 years and 61,8 years respectively. Concerning the first group, the osteoarthritis of the knee was bilateral in 76% of the cases. In the second group, participants were suffering from sciatica in 24%, neck pain in 20%, back pain in 18%, shoulder pain in 8%.
Electrical conductivity was significantly increased in the specific area in the experimental group (86%) comparing to the control group (10%) (p=0,0001). It seems also that the skin conductivity was more frequently elevated in women (55,9%, p=0,02) and it dependence on some age rates for example for [41-50]= 100%, [51-60]= 87%,[ >60]= 83%, statically significant ( p<0,001, p<0,005 and p<0,0001).
The electrical conductivity was correlated to the duration of knee pain (p=0,03). It was also significantly increased in case of bilateral osteoarthritis (p=0,0001). This test was associated to the WOMAC score concerning Pain (p<0,05). However, there was no significant correlation with the items Function and Stiffness of the WOMAC score.
Conclusions This randomized controlled study has demonstrated that a somatotopic mapping of the body is represented upon the external ear and there is increased electrical conductivity and heightened tenderness to touch correspond to specific areas of the body where there is some pathological condition such as in our case auricular projection of the knee.
References Chen G. advances in researches on auriculo-acupoints. J Tradit Chin Med 1991; 11:216-23
Chen H. recent studies on auriculoacunpucture and its mechanism. J Tradis Chin Med 1993; 13:129-43.
Lorna KP. Auriculotherapy on low back pain in the elderly. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2007; 13:63-69.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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